JW. tf ; - :
EDM. CAN. SURMONT.
die 15 Junii, 1915.
of the Jfnith
A SERIES OF LIVES OF THE SAINTS
FOR YOUNG AND OLD
FHE LITTLK AUGUSTINE LEARNS TO KNOW JESUS CHRIST
THE LIFE OF
F. A. FORBES
fVITH THREE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS BY
FRANK ROSS MAGUIRE
R. & T. WASHBOURNE, LTD.
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
AND AT MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAM, AND GLASGOW
I. HOW ST. MONICA WAS BROUGHT UP BY
CHRISTIAN PARENTS IN THE CITY OF
TAGASTE i 3
II. HOW ST. MONICA LIVED IN THE PAGAN
HOUSEHOLD OF HER HUSBAND PATRI-
III. HOW ST. MONICA BROUGHT UP HER CHIL
DREN, AND HOW THE LITTLE AUGUS
TINE FELL SICK AND DESIRED BAPTISM 33
IV. HOW ST. MONICA BY HER GENTLENESS
AND CHARITY WON PATRICIUS AND HIS
MOTHER TO CHRIST 43
V. HOW AUGUSTINE WENT TO CARTHAGE,
AND HOW PATRICIUS DIED A CHRISTIAN
VI. HOW ST. MONICA LIVED IN THE DAYS OF
HER WIDOWHOOD, AND HOW SHE PUT
ALL HER TRUST IN GOD 64
VII. HOW ST. MONICA S HEART WAS WELL NIGH
BROKEN BY THE NEWS THAT HER SON
HAD ABJURED THE CHRISTIAN FAITH 7)
VIII. HOW AUGUSTINE PLANNED TO GO TO ROME,
AND HOW HE CRUELLY DECEIVED HIS
MOTHER 8 4
IX. HOW AUGUSTINE CAME TO MILAN, AND
HOW HIS TEMPEST-TOSSED SOUL FOUND
LIGHT AND PEACE AT LAST Q4
X. HOW ST. MONICA LIVED AT CASSIACUM
WITH AUGUSTINE AND HIS FRIENDS,
AND HOW AUGUSTINE WAS BAPTIZED
BY ST. AMBROSE lo?
XI. HOW ST. MONICA SET OUT FOR AFRICA
WITH ST. AUGUSTINE, AND HOW SHE
DIED AT OSTIA ON THE TIBER ng
THE LITTLE AUGUSTINE LEARNS TO KNOW
JESUS CHRIST Frontispiece
I- . Ross Maguire.
PATRICIUS TELLS HIS WIFE OF HIS DESIRE TO BE
A CHRISTIAN 53
F. Ross Maguire.
ST. AUGUSTINE DECEIVES HIS MOTHER AND
SAILS AWAY TO ROME 90
F. Ross Magnire.
" THE JOY OF THAT MOMENT WAS LIKE A FORE
TASTE OF ETERNITY " iao
From the picture by Ary ScLeffer.
This book is above all things the story of a mother. But
it is also the story of a noble woman a woman who was
truly great, for the reason that she never sought to be so.
Because she understood the sphere in which a woman s
work in the world must usually lie, and led her life truly
along the lines that God had laid down for her ; because she
suffered bravely, forgot herself for others, and remained
faithful to her noble ideals, she ruled as a queen amongst
those with whom her life was cast. Her influence was great
and far-reaching, but she herself was the last to suspect
it, the last to desire it, and that was perhaps the secret of
its greatness. The type is rare at the present day, but,
thank God! there are Monicas still in the world. If there
were more, the world would be a better place.
HOW ST. MONICA WAS BROUGHT UP BY CHRIS
TIAN PARENTS IN THE CITY OF TAGASTE
ON the sunny northern coast of Africa in the
country which we now call Algeria stood, in
the early days of Christianity, a city called
Tagaste. Not far distant lay the field of
Zama, where the glory of Hannibal had
perished for ever. But Rome had long since
avenged the sufferings of 1 cr bitter struggle
with Carthage. It was the ambition of
Roman Africa, as the new colony had been
called by its conquerors, to be, if possible,
more Roman than Rome. Every town had
its baths, its theatie, its circus, its temples,
its aqueducts. It was forbidden even to
exiles as a place of refuge too much like
home, said the authorities.
It was about the middle of the fourth cen
tury. The Church was coining forth from her
I 4 ST. MONICA
long imprisonment into the light of day.
The successor of Constantine, in name a
Christian, sat on the Imperial throne. The
old struggle with paganism, which had lasted
for four hundred years, was nearly at an end,
but new dangers assailed the Christian world.
Men had found that it was easier to twist the
truth than to deny it, and heresy and schism
In the atrium or outer court of a villa on
the outskirts of Tagaste an old woman and
a young girl sat together looking out into the
dark shadows of the evening, for the hot
African sun had sunk not long since behind
the Numidian Mountains, and the day had
gone out like a lamp.
" And the holy Bishop Cyprian ?" asked
" They sent him into exile," said the old
woman, " for his father had been a Senator,
and his family was well known and powerful.
At that time they dared not put him to death,
though later he, too, shed his blood for Christ.
It was God s will that he should remain for
many years to strengthen his flock in the trial."
THE MARTYRS OF AFRICA 15
" Did you ever see him, grandmother ?"
asked the girl.
" No," said the old woman, " it was before
my time; but my mother knew him well. It
was when he was a boy in Carthage and still
a pagan that the holy martyrs Perpetua and
Felicitas suffered with their companions. It
was not till years after that he became a
Christian, but it may have been their death
that sowed the first seed in his heart."
" Tell me," said the girl softly. It was an
oft-told tale of which she never tired. Her
grandmother had lived through those dark
days of persecution, and it was the delight of
Monica s girlhood to hear her tell the stories
of those who had borne witness to the Faith
in their own land of Africa.
:( Perpetua was not much older than you,"
said the old woman. " She was of noble race
and born of a Christian mother, though her
father was a pagan. She was married, and
had a little infant of a few months old.
When she was called before the tribunal of
Hilarion the Roman Governor, all were
touched by her youth and beauty. Sacrifice
to the gods/ they said, and you shall go
16 ST. MONICA
free. I am a Christian/ she answered, and
nothing more would she say, press her as
" Her old father hastened to her side with
the baby, and laid it in her arms. Will you
leave your infant motherless ? he asked,
and bring your old father s hairs in sorrow
to the grave ?
Have pity on the child ! cried the
bystanders. Have pity on your father !
" Perpetua clasped her baby to her breast,
and her eyes filled with tears. They thought
she had yielded, and brought her the incense.
Just one little grain on the brazier, they
said, and you are free for the child s sake
and your old father s.
" She pushed it from her. I am a Chris
tian, she said. * God will keep my child.
" She was condemned with her companions
to be thrown to the wild beasts in the amphi
theatre, and they were taken away and cast
into a dark dungeon. Every day they were
tempted with promises of freedom to renounce
the Truth. The little babe of Felicitas was
born in the prison where they lay awaiting
death. A Christian woman took the infant
THE MARTYRS OF AFRICA i;
to bring it up in the Faith. The young
mother never saw the face of her child in
this world. One word, one little motion of
the hand, and they were free, restored again
to their happy life of old and the homes that
were so dear. There were many, alas 1 in
those cruel days who had not courage for the
fight, who sacrificed, and went their way.
Not so these weak women.
" Once again they brought Perpetua her
little child to try to shake her constancy.
The prison was like a palace, she said, while
its little downy head lay on her breast. Her
father wept, and even struck her in his grief
and anger. I am a Christian, she said, and
gave him back the babe.
" They were thrown to the wild beasts.
Felicitas and Perpetua, who had been tossed
by a wild cow, though horribly gored, were
still alive. Gladiators were summoned to
behead them. Felicitas died at the first
stroke, but the man s hand trembled, and he
struck at Perpetua again and again, wounding
her, but not mortally. You are more
afraid than I, she said gently, and taking the
point of the sword held it to her throat.
i8 ST. MONICA
Strike now/ she said, and so passed into the
presence of her G(A."
Monica drew a long breath.
" So weak and yet so strong," she said.
" So it is, my child/ said the old woman.
"It is those who are strong and true in the
little things of life who are strong and true
in the great trials."
" It is hard to be always strong and true/"
said the girl.
" Not if God s love comes always first/
answered the old woman.
Monica was silent. She was thinking of
her own young life, and how, with all the
safeguards of a Christian home about her, she
had narrowly escaped a great danger. From
her babyhood she had been brought up by
her father s old nurse not over- tenderly
pcrhn.ps, but wisely, for the city of Tagaste
was largely pagan in its habits, and the
faithful old servant knew well what tempta
tions would surround her nursling in later
years. Monica, though full of life and spirit,
had common sense and judgment beyond her
years. She had also a great love of God and
of all that belonged to His holy service, and
A LIFE S LESSON 19
would spend hours kneeling in the church in
a quiet corner. It was there she brought all
her childish troubles and her childish hopes;
it was to the invisible Friend in the sanctuary
that she confided all the secrets of her young
heart, and, above all, that desire to suffer for
Him and for His Church with which the
stories of the martyrs had inspired her.
When the time slipped away too fast, and
she returned home late, she accepted humbly
the correction that awaited her, for she knew
that she had disobeyed although uninten
tionally her nurse s orders.
Monica had been wilfully disobedient once,
and all her life long she would never forget
the lesson her disobedience had taught her.
It was a rule of her old nurse that she should
take nothing to drink between meals, even in
the hot days of summer in that sultry climate.
If she had not courage to bear so slight a
mortification as that, the old woman would
argue, it would go ill with her in the greater
trials of life. Monica had become used to
the habit, but when she was old enough to
begin to learn the duties of housekeeping her
mother had desired that she should go every
20 ST. MONICA
day to the cellar to draw the wine for the
midday meal. A maid-servant went with her
to carry the flagon, and the child, feeling
delightfully important, filled and refilled the
little cup which was used to draw the wine
from the cask and emptied it carefully into
the wine-jar. When all was finished, a few
drops remaining in the cup, a spirit of mis
chief took sudden possession of Monica, and
she drained it off, making a wry face as she
did so at the strange taste. The maid-servant
laughed, and continued to laugh when the
performance was repeated the next day and
the day after. The strange taste became
gradually less strange and less unpleasant to
the young girl; daily a few drops were added,
until at last, scarcely thinking what she did,
she would drink nearly the fill of the little
cup, while the servant laughed as of old.
But Monica was quick and intelligent, and
was learning her household duties well.
Finding one day that a piece of work which
fell to the lot of the maid who went with her
to the wine-cellar was very badly done, she
reproved her severely. The woman turned on
her young mistress angrily.
A LIFE S LESSON 21
" It is not for a wine-bibber like you to
find fault with me," she retorted.
Monica stood horrified. The woman s
insolent word had torn the veil from her
eyes. Whither was she drifting ? Into what
depths might that one act of disobedience so
lightly committed have led her had not God
in His mercy intervened ? She never touched
wine for the rest of her life unless largely
diluted with water. God had taught her
that " he who despises small things shall fall
by little and little," and Monica had learnt
her lesson. She had learnt to distrust her
self, and self-distrust makes one marvellously
gentle with others; she had learnt, too, to
put her trust in God, and trust in God makes
one marvellously strong. She had been
taught to love the poor and the suffering,
and to serve them at her own expense and
inconvenience, and the service of others
makes one unselfish. God had work for
Monica to do in His world, as He has for
us all if we will only do it, and He had given
her what was needful for her task.
That night on the way to her chamber, as
the young girl passed the place where she had
22 ST. MONICA
s it with her grandmother earlier in the day,
she paused a moment and looked out between
the tall pillars into the starlit night, where
the palm-trees stood like dark shadows
against the deep, deep blue of the sky. She
clasped her hands, and her lips moved in
prayer. " Oh God/ she murmured, " to
suffer for Thee and for Thy Faith I" God
heard the whispered prayer, and answered it
later. There is a living martyrdom as painful
and as bitter as death, and Monica was called
to taste it.
HOW ST. MONICA LIVED IN THE PAGAN HOUSE
HOLD OF HER HUSBAND PATKICIUS
ALTHOUGH there were many Christians in
Roman Africa, pagan manners and customs
still survived in many of her cities. The
people clung to their games in the circus, the
cruel and bloody combats of the arena,
which, though forbidden by Constantine,
were still winked at by provincial governors
They scarcely pretended to believe in their
religion, but they held to the old pagan
festivals, which enabled them to enjoy them
selves without restraint under pretence of
honouring the gods. The paganism of the
fourth centuiy, with its motto, " Let us eat,
drink, and be merry," imposed no self-denial;
it was therefore bound to be popular.
But unrestrained human nature is a danger
ous thing. If men are content to live as the
24 ST. MONICA
beasts that perish, they fall as far below
their level as God meant them to rise above
it, and the Roman Empire was falling to
pieces through its own corruption. In Africa
the worship of the old Punic gods, to whom
living children used to be offered in sacrifice,
had still its votaries, and priests of Saturn
and Astarte, with their long hair and painted
faces and scarlet robes, were still to be met
dancing madly in procession through the
streets of Carthage.
The various heretical sects had their
preachers everywhere, proclaiming that there
were much easier ways of serving Christ than
that taught by the Catholic Church. It was
hard for the Christian bishops to keep their
flocks untainted, for there were enemies on
When Monica was twenty-two years old
her parents gave her in marriage to a citizen
of Tagaste called Patricius. He held a good
position in the town, for he belonged to a
family which, though poor, was noble.
Monica knew little of her future husband,
save that he was nearly twice her age and a
pagan, but it was the custom for parents to
arrange all such matters, and she had only
A little surprise was perhaps felt in Tagaste
that such good Christians should choose a
pagan husband for their beautiful daughter,
but it \vas found impossible to shake their
hopeful views for the future. When it was
objected that Patricius was well known for
his violent temper even amongst his own
associates, they answered that he would learn
gentleness when he became a Christian. That
things might go hard with their daughter in
the meantime they did not seem to foresee.
Monica took her new trouble where she
had been used to take the old. Kneeling in
her favourite corner in the church, she asked
help and counsel of the Friend Who never
fails. She had had her girlish ideals of love
and marriage. She had dreamt of a strong
arm on which she could lean, of a heart and
soul that would be at one with her in all
that was most dear, of two lives spent to
gether in God s love and service. And now
it seemed that it was she who would have to
be strong for both; to strive and to suffer to
bring her husband s soul out of darkness
26 ST. MONICA
into the light of truth. Would she succeed ?
And if not, what would be that married life
which lay before her ? She did not dare to
think. She must not fail and yet. . . .
" Thou in me, Lord/ she prayed again and
again through her tears.
It was late when she made her way home
wards, and that night, kneeling at her bed
side, she laid the ideals of her girlhood at the
feet of Him Who lets no sacrifice, however
small, go unrewarded. She would be true to
this new trust, she resolved, cost what it might.
Things certainly did not promise w ? ell for
the young bride s happiness. Patricius lived
with his mother, a woman of strong passions
like himself, and devoted to her son. She
was bitterly jealous of the young girl who
had stolen his affections, and had made up
her mind to dislike her. The slaves of the
household followed, of course, their mis
tress s lead, and tried to please her by invent
ing stories against Monica.
Patricius, who loved his young wife with
the only kind of love of which he was capable,
had nothing in common with her, and had
no clue to her thoughts or actions. He had
A PAGAN HOUSEHOLD 27
neither reverence nor respect for women
indeed, most of the women of his acquaint
ance were deserving of neither and he had
chosen Monica for her beauty, much as he
would have chosen a horse or a dog. He
thought her ways and ideas extraordinary.
She took as kindly an interest in the slaves
as if they had been of her own flesh and
blood, and would even intercede to spare
them a beating. She liked the poor, and
would gather these dirty and unpleasant
people about her, going so far even as to wash
and dress their sores. Patricius did not share
her attraction, and objected strongly to such
proceedings; but Monica pleaded so humbly
and sweetly that he gave way, and let her
do what seemed to cause her so much pleasure.
There was no accounting for tastes," he
remarked. She would spend hours in the
church praying, with her great eyes fixed
on the altar. True, she was never there at
any time when she was likely to be missed
by her husband, and never was she so full
of tender affection for him as when she came
home; but still, it was a strange way of
spending one s time.
28 ST. MONICA
There was something about Monica, it is
true, that was altogether unlike any other
inmate of the house, as she went about her
daily duties, always watching for the chance
of doing a kind action.
When Patricius was in one of his violent
tempers, shouting, abusing, and even striking
everybody who came in his way, she would
look at him with gentle eyes that showed
neither fear nor anger. She never answered
sharply, even though his rude words wounded
her cruelly. He had once raised his hand
to strike her, but he had not dared; some
thing he did not know what withheld
Later, when his anger had subsided, and
he was perhaps a little ashamed of his violence,
she would meet him with an affectionate
smile, forgiving and forgetting all. Only if
he spoke himself, and, touched at her gene
rous forbearance, tried shamefacedly to make
amends for his treatment of her, would she
gently explain her conduct. More often she
said nothing, knowing that actions speak
more loudly than words. As her greatest
biographer says of her: " She spoke little,
GOOD FOR EVIL 29
preached not at all, loved much, and prayed
When the young wives of her acquaintance,
married like herself to pagan husbands, com
plained of the insults and even blows which
they had to bear, " Are you sure your own
tongue is not to blame ?" she would ask
them laughingly; and then with ready sym
pathy would do all she could to help and com
fort and advise. They would ask her secret,
for everyone knew that, in spite of the vio
lence of Patricius s temper, he treated her with
something that almost approached respect.
Then she would bid them be patient, and
love and pray, and meet harshness with
gentleness, and abuse with silence. And when
they sometimes answered that it would seem
weak to knock under in such a fashion,
Monica would ask them if they thought it
needed more strength to speak or to be silent
when provoked, and which was easier, to
smile or to sulk when insulted ? Many homes
were happier in consequence, for Monica had
a particular gift for making peace, and even
as a child had settled the quarrels of her
young companions to everybody s satisfaction.
30 ST. MONICA
To the outside world Patricius s young wife
seemed contented and happy. She managed
her affairs well, people said, and no one but
God knew of the suffering that was her secret
and His. Brought up in the peace and
piety of a Christian family, she had had no
idea of the miseries of paganism. Now she
had ample opportunity to study the effects
of unchecked selfishness and of uncontrolled
passions; to see how low human nature, un
restrained by faith and love, could fall. Her
mother-in-law treated her with suspicion and
dislike, for the slaves, never weary of invent
ing fresh stones against her, misrepresented
all her actions to their mistress. Monica did
not seem to notice unkindness, repaying the
many insults she received with little services
tactfully rendered, but she felt it deeply.
" They do not know," she would say to
herself, and pray for them all the more
earnestly, offering her sufferings for these
poor souls who were so far from the peace of
Christ. How was the light to come to them
if not through her ? How could they learn
to love Christ unless they learned to love His
servants and to see Him in them ? The
" THOU IN ME " 31
revelation must come through her, if it was
to come at all. " Thou in me, O Lord/
she would pray, and draw strength and
courage at His feet for the daily suffering.
The heart of Patricius was like a neglected
garden. Germs of generosity, of nobility, lay
hidden under a rank growth of weeds that no
one had ever been at any trouble to clear
away. The habits of a lifetime held him cap
tive. With Monica he was always at his best,
but he grew weary of being at his best. It
was so much easier to be at his worst. He
gradually began to seek distractions amongst
his old pagan companions in the old ignoble
The whole town began to talk of his neglect
of his beautiful young wife. Monica suffered
cruelly, but in silence. When he was at
home, which was but seldom, she was serene
and gentle as usual. She never reproached
him, and treated him with the same tender
deference as of old. Patricius felt the charm
of her presence; all that was good in him
responded; but evil habits had gone far
to stifle the good, and his lower nature
cried out for base enjoyments He was not
32 ST. MONICA
strong enough to break the chain which held
So Monica wept and prayed in secret, and
God sent a ray of sunshine to brighten her
sad life. Three children were born to her
during the early years of her marriage. The
name of Augustine, her eldest son, will be
for ever associated with that of his mother.
Of the other two, Navigius and Perpetua his
sister, we know little. Navigius, delicate in
health, was of a gentle and pious nature.
Both he and Perpetua married, but the latter
after her husband s death entered a monas
tery. With her younger children Monica
had no trouble; it was the eldest, Augustine,
who, after having been for long the son of
her sorrow and of her prayers, was destined
to be at last her glory and her joy.
HOW ST. MONICA BROUGHT UP HER CHILDREN,
AND HOW THE LITTLE AUGUSTINE FELL
SICK AND DESIRED BAPTISM
As soon as the little Augustine was born, his
mother had him taken to the Christian
Church, that the sign of the Cross might be
made on his forehead, and that he might be
entered amongst the catechumens. It was a
custom of the time never approved of by the
Church to pat off Baptism until the catechu
men had shown himself able to withstand
the tempations of the half-pagan society in
the midst of which he had to live. Through
this mistaken idea of reverence for the Sacra
ment the young soldier of Christ, lest he
should tarnish his weapons in the fight, was
sent unarmed into a conflict in which he
needed all the strength which the Sacraments
alone can give.
34 ST. MONICA
The outlook for Monica, with her pagan
husband and her pagan household, was
darker than for most Christian mothers. Her
heart grew heavy within her as she held her
young son in her arms and thought of the
future. For the present indeed he was hers;
but later, when she could no longer keep him
at her side and surround him with a mother s
love and protection, what dangers would
beset him ?, The influence of an unbelieving
father, during the years when his boyish ideas
of life would be forming ; a household
that knew not Christ how could he pass
untouched through the dangers that would
assail his young soul ? With prayers and
tears, Monica bent over the unconscious little
head that lay so peacefully upon her breast,
commending her babe to the Heavenly Father
to Whom all things are possible.
Augustine drank in the love of Christ with
his mother s milk, he tells us. As soon as he
could speak, she taught him to lisp a prayer.
As soon as he could understand, she taught
him, in language suited to his childish sense,
the great truths of the Christian Faith. He
would listen eagerly, and, standing at his
MOTHER AND SON 35
mother s knee, or nestling in her arms, follow
the sweet voice that could make the highest
things so simple to his childish understanding.
It was the seed-time that was later to
bear such glorious fruit, though the long days
of winter Ir.y between. The boy was thought
ful and intelligent; he loved all that was
great and good and noble. The loathing of
what was mean and base and unlovely,
breathed into him by his mother in those
days of early childhood, haunted him even
during his worst moments in later life. The
cry that burst from his soul in manhood when
he had drunk deeply of the cup of earthly
joys and found it bitter and unsatisfying had
its origin in those early teachings. " Thou
hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our
hearts can find no rest until they rest in
One day, when the child was about seven
years old, he was suddenly seized with sick
ness. He was in great pain, and soon be
came so ill that his life was in danger. His
parents were in anguish, but Augustine s
one thought was for his soul; he begged and
prayed that he might receive Baptism.
36 ST. MONICA
Monica added her entreaties to his. Patri-
cius yielded. All was prepared, when the
child suddenly got better. Then someone
intervened, probably his father, for Augus
tine tells us that the Baptism was put off
But it was time to think of the boy s
education, and it was proposed to send him
to school in Tagaste. It was a pagan school
to which the child must go, pagan authors
that he must study, and, worse than all,
pagan conversation that he must hear and
pagan playmates with whom he must asso
Patricius was proud of the beauty and the
intelligence of his little son, and hoped great
things for the future; but Augustine s early
school-days were far from brilliant. Eager as
the boy was to learn what interested him, he
had an insurmountable dislike to anything
that caused him trouble. It bored him to
learn to read and write, and the uninspiring
truth that two and two make four was a weari
ness of the flesh to him. Though the stories
of Virgil enchanted him, Homer he never
thoroughly enjoyed nor quite forgave, for
AUGUSTINE S EDUCATION 37
had he not for his sake been forced to wade
through the chilly waters of the Greek
Unfortunately for Augustine, such dismal
truths as two and two make four have to
be mastered before higher nights can be at
tempted. The Tagaste schoolmasters had
but one way of sharpening their scholars
zeal for learning the liberal use of the
Now, Augustine disliked beatings as much
as he disliked all other unpleasant things,
but he also disliked work. The only way of
evading both disagreeables was to follow the
example of the greater number of his fellow-
scholars to play when he should have been
working, and to tell clever lies to his school
masters and his parents in order to escape
punishment. Such tricks, however, are bound
to be found out sooner or later, and Monica,
realizing that much could be got out of her
son by love, but little by fear, took him for
a course of instruction to the Christian
priests, that he might learn to overcome
himself for the love of God.
As a result Augustine took more earnestly
38 ST. MONICA
to his prayers, asking, above all, however, that
he might not be beaten at school. His mother,
finding him one day praying in a quiet corner
to this intent, suggested that if he had learnt
his lessons for the day he need have no fear,
but if he had not, punishment was to be ex
pected. Patricius, who was passing and over
heard the conversation, laughed at his son s
fears and agreed with his wife. Augustine
thought them both exceedingly heartless.
As the boy grew older, however, his wonder
ful gifts began to show themselves, and his
masters, seeing of what he was really capable,
punished him yet more severely when he was
idle. Augustine, too, began to take pride
in his own success, and to wish to be first
amongst his young companions. The latter
cheated as a matter of course, both in work
and at play. Bad habits are catching, and
Augustine would sometimes cheat too. When
found out he would fly into a passion, although
no one was so severe on the dishonesty of
others as he. And yet, though he would
often yield to the temptations that were the
hardest for his pleasure-loving nature to
resist, there was much that was good in the
boy. He had a faithful and loving heart, an
attraction for all that was great and noble.
He was, in fact, his mother s son as well as
his father s; the tares and the wheat were
sprouting side by side.
But Augustine was rapidly growing out of
childhood. Patricius, prouder than ever of
his clever son, resolved to spare no pains to
give him the best education that his means
could procure. The boy had a great gift of
eloquence, said his masters, and much
judgment; he would be certain to succeed
brilliantly at the Bar. It was decided to
send him to Madaura, a town about twenty
miles distant, a good deal larger than Tagaste,
and well known for its culture and its schools.
It was one of the most pagan of the cities of
Africa, but this was an objection that had
no weight with Patricius, although it meant
much to Monica. The only comfort for her
in the thought of this first separation was
that there at least her son would not be far
from home. Not far away in truth, as
distance goes, but how far away in spirit !
Madaura was a large and handsome city,
with a circus and theatre, and a fine forum,
40 ST. MONICA
or market-place, set round with statues of
the gods. It was proud of its reputation
for learning, but had little else to be proud of.
Its professors were men who were more
ashamed of being detected in a fault of style
than in the grossest crimes, who were ashamed
indeed of nothing else. The pagan gods were
held up to their scholars as models for
admiration and imitation.
It was a poor ideal at the best. The gods
were represented by the great pagan poets
and authors as no better, if more powerful,
than ordinary mortals. They were subject
to all the meannesses and all the baseness
of the least noble of their worshippers. That
their adventures, neither moral nor ele
vating, were told in the most exquisite lan
guage by the greatest authors of antiquity
rather added to the danger than decreased
it. True, the noblest of the classical writers
broke away continually from the bondage
which held them, to stretch out groping hands
towards the eternal truth and beauty into
which real genius must always have some
insight, but not all were noble.
The students of Madaura were worthy of
their masters. Nothing was too shameful to
be talked about, if only it were talked about
in well-turned phrases. The plays acted in
the theatre were what might be expected in
Roman society of the fourth century that
society from which St. Anthony and St.
Jerome had been forced to flee to the desert
in order to save their souls.
Augustine won golden opinions from his
masters for his quickness and intelligence.
They thought of nothing else but of culti
vating the minds of their scholars. Heart
and soul were left untouched, or touched in
such a way that evil sprang to life and good
was stifled. He was a genius, they cried, a
budding rhetorician, a poet.
Although masters and scholars alike ap
plauded him, Augustine, while he drank their
praises greedily, was restless and unhappy.
He had gone down before the subtle tempta
tions of Madaura like corn before the scythe.
First evil thoughts, but carelessly resisted;
then evil deeds. He had lost his childish
innocence, and with it his childish happiness.
For he knew too much, and was too noble
of nature to be content with what was
42 ST. MONICA
ignoble. The seeds of his mother s teaching
were yet alive within him.
And Monica ? Only twenty miles away
at Tagaste she was praying for her son, be
seeching the Heavenly Father to keep him
from evil, to watch over him now that she
was no longer at his side, hoping and trusting
that all was well with her boy.
HOW ST. MONICA BY HER GENTLENESS AND
CHARITY WON PATRICIUS AND HIS MOTHER
OF all the hidden forces in the world perhaps
the most mysterious is what we call " in
fluence." For good or for evil, to a lesser or
a greater degree, it goes out from each one
of us, and has its effect on all with whom we
come in contact. It is like a subtle breath
that braces the spirit to good, or relaxes it to
evil, but never leaves it untouched or un
moved. " No man liveth to himself alone/
said St. Paul, who had many opportunities
of watching the workings of that mysterious
force in the world and of studying its effects.
According as we follow our best and noblest
instincts, or, to use a homely but vivid
phrase, let ourselves go, consciously or un
consciously, we give an upward lift or a
44 ST. MONICA
downward push to all who come in contact
with us. Happily for us all, God does not
ask of us attainment, but effort, and earnest
effort is the simple secret of healthy influence.
Monica, it is true, was a Saint, but a Saint
in the making. Saints are not born ready-
made ; holiness is a beautiful thing that is built
up stone by stone, not brought into being by
the touch of the enchanter s wand.
During the years that had p issed since
Patricius had brought his young wife home
to his mother s house, she would have been
the first to confess how far she had fallen
short of the ideal she had set herself to
attain. And yet there had been ceaseless
effort, ceaseless prayer, unwearying love and
patience. Outwardly all seemed as usual,
but the hidden force had been doing its
work in secret as it always does.
The mother of Patricius was growing old;
she was neither so active nor so strong as she
had been. What had used to be easy to her
was becoming difficult. It galled her inde
pendent spirit to be obliged to ask help of
others. Monica, reading her heart as only
the unselfish can, saw this and understood.
LIGHT AT LAST 45
At every moment the older woman would
find that some Jittle service had been done
by unseen hands, some little thoughtful act
that made things easier for the tired old
limbs. There was someone who seemed to
know and understand what she wanted
almost before she did herself.
Who could it be ? Not the slaves, cer
tainly. They did their duty for fear of being
beaten, but that was all. It was all, indeed,
that was expected of them. Not Patricius,
either; it was not his way, he never thought
of such things. It could therefore be no one
The old woman mused deeply. She had
treated her daughter-in-law harshly and un
kindly during all these years. She had
looked upon her as an intruder. But then,
the slaves had told her unpleasant stories of
their young mistress; it was only what she
deserved. And yet. ... It was hard to
think of those ugly tales in connection with
Monica as she herself knew her as she had
seen her day by day since she came first, a
young bride, to her husband s home.
Again, how had Monica repaid her for her
46 ST. MONICA
unkindness ? With never-failing charity and
sweetness, with gentle respect and deference
to her wishes, never trying to assert herself,
never appealing to her husband to give her
the place which of right belonged to her.
She had been content to be treated as the
last in the house.
The old woman sat lost in thought. What
would the house be like, she suddenly asked
herself, without that gentle presence ? What
would she do, what would they all do, without
Monica ? With a sudden pang of sorrow
she realized how much she leant upon her
daughter-in-law, what her life would be
without her. She considered the matter in
this new light. She was a woman of strong
passions but of sound common sense; reason
was beginning to triumph over prejudice.
Sending for the slaves, she questioned them
sharply as to the tales they had told her
about their young mistress. They faltered,
contradicted each other and themselves in
the end confessed that they had lied.
The old lady went straight to her son, and
told him the whole story. Patricius was not
one to take half measures in such a matter.
THE FIRST FRUITS 47
Not even the prayers of Monica, all uncon
scious of the particular offence they had
committed, availed to save the culprits.
They were as soundly beaten as they had
ever been in their lives, after which they
were told that they knew what to expect if
they ever breathed another word against
their young mistress again. As it happened,
they had no desire to do so. The hidden
forces had been working there too. Monica s
kindness, her sympathy with their joys and
sorrows to them something strange and
new had already touched their hearts.
More than once they had been sorry for ever
having spoken against her; they had felt
ashamed in her presence.
Justice having been done on the slaves, the
mother of Patricius sought out her daughter-
in-law, told her frankly that she had been
in the wrong, and asked her forgiveness.
Monica clasped the old woman in her arms
and refused to listen. From that moment
they were the truest of friends.
There were many things to be spoken of,
but first religion. Monica had revealed her
Faith by her life, her daily actions, and to
48 ST. MONICA
the oilier it was a beautiful and alluring
revelation. She wanted to know, to under
stand; she listened eagerly to Monica s ex
It W 7 as a message of new life, of hope beyond
the grave, of joy, of peace; she begged to be
received as a catechumen. It was not long
before she knelt at Monica s side before the
altar to be signed on the brow with the Cross
of Christ the joyous first-fruits of the seed
that had been sown in tears.
One by one the slaves followed their mis
tress s example, hungering in their turn for
the message that brought such peace and
light to suffering and weary souls. Was it
for such as they ? they asked. And Monica
answered that it was for all, that the Master
Himself had chosen to be as One that
The whole household was Christian now,
with the exception of Patricius, and even he
was growing daily more gentle, more thought
ful; the mysterious forces were working on
him too. His love for Monica was more
reverent; his eyes were opening slowly to
the beauty of spiritual things. The old life,
AUGUSTINE S FUTURE 49
with its old pleasures, was growing distasteful
to him; he saw its baseness while as yet he
could scarcely tear himself free from its
fetters the fetters of old habit so hard to
break. He noticed the change in his mother,
and half-envied her her courage. He even
envied the slaves their happy faces, the new
light that shone in their eyes and that gave
them a strange new dignity.
Monica, watching the struggle, redoubled
her prayers; her unsellish love surrounded
her husband like an atmosphere of light and
sweetness, drawing him with an invincible
power to better things. She would speak to
him of their children above all, of Augustine,
their eldest-born, the admiration of his
masters at Madaura. He was astonishing
everybody, they wrote, by his brilliant gifts.
He had the soul of a poet and the eloquence
of an orator; he would do great things.
Madaura had been all very well up till now,
his father decided, but everything must be
done to give their boy a good start in life;
they must go farther afield. Rome was
impossible; the distance was too great and
the expense too heavy. Patricius s means
50 ST. MONICA
were, limited, but he resolved to do his utmost
for his eldest son. Carthage had a reputation
for culture and for learning that was second
only to that of Rome. If strict economy
were practised at home, Carthage might be
possible. In the meantime it was not much
use leaving the boy at Madaura. Let him
come home and remain there a year, during
which he could study privately while they
saved the money to pay his expenses at
The suggestion delighted Monica. She
would have her son with her for a whole
year. She would be able to watch over him
just when he needed her motherly care; she
looked forward eagerly to Augustine s return.
The old, intimate life they had led together
before he went to Madaura would begin
again. Again her boy would hang on her
arm and tell her all his hopes and dreams for
the future hopes and dreams into which ghe
always entered, of which she was always
part. She would look once more into the
boy s clear eyes while he confessed to her his
faults and failings, and see the light flame
up in them as she told him of noble and
THE NEW SORROW 51
heroic deeds, arid urged him to be true to his
And so in happy dreams the days went
past until Augustine s return; but there was
bitter grief in store for Monica. This was not
the same Augustine that they had left at
Madaura two years ago. The days of the
old familiar friendship seemed to have gone
past recall. His eyes no longer turned to
her with the old candour; he shunned her
questioning look. He shunned her company
even, and seemed more at ease with his
father, who was proud beyond words of his
tall, handsome son.
He was all right, said Patricius; he was
growing up, that was all. Boys could not
always be tied to their mother s apron-
strings. The moment that Monica had so
dreaded for Augustine had come then; the
pagan influences had been at work. Oh,
why had she let him go to Madaura ? And
yet it had to be so; his father had insisted.
She made several efforts to break through
the wall of reserve that Augustine had built
up between himself and her, but it was of no
use. He had other plans now into which
52 ST. MONICA
she did not enter, other thoughts far away
how far away ! from hers. A dark cloud
was between them.
One day she persuaded her son to go out
with her. The spring had just come that
wonderful African spring when the whole
world seems suddenly to burst into flower.
Asphodels stood knee-deep on either side of
the path in which they walked; the fragrance
of the springtime was in their nostrils; the
golden sunlight bathed the rainbow earth.
It was a walk that they had loved to take of
old, to delight together in all the beauty of
that world which God had made.
Monica spoke gently to her son of the new
life that lay before him, of the dangers that
beset his path. He must hold fast to the
Law of Christ, she told him; he must be pure
and strong and true.
There was no answering gleam as of old.
The boy listened with a bad grace shame
and honour were tugging at his heart-strings,
but in vain. The better self Was defeated, for
the lower self was growing stronger every day.
" Woman s talk," he said to himself. " I
am no longer a child/
PATKICIUS TELLS HIS WIFE OF HIS DESIRE TO BE A CHRISTIAN.
To face p.
THE NEW JOY 53
They turned back through the glorious
sights and sounds of the springtime; there
was a dagger in Monica s heart. On the
threshold she met Patricius. He wanted to
speak to her, he said. She slipped her arm
into his, smiling through her pain, and they
went back again, between the nodding
asphodels and the hedges of wisteria, along
the path she had just trodden with her son.
There was an unwonted seriousness about
Patricius. He had been thinking deeply of
late, he told her. He had begun to see
things in a new light. It was dim as yet,
and he was still weak ; but the old life and the
old religion had grown hateful to him. Her
God was the true God; he wanted to know
how to love and serve that God of hers.
Was he fit, did she think, to learn ? Could
he be received as a catechumen ?
The new joy fell like balm on the new
sorrow. Monica had lost her son, but gained
her husband. God was good. He had heard
her prayers, He had accepted her sacrifice.
Surely He would give her back her boy. She
would trust on and hope. " He will withhold
no good thing from them that ak Him."
54 ST. MONICA
A few days later Patricius knelt beside her
at the altar. Her heart overflowed with joy
and thankfulness. They were one at last
one in soul, in faith. A few steps distant
knelt Augustine. What thoughts were in his
heart ? Was it the last struggle between
good and evil ? Was the influence of his
mother, the love of Christ she had instilled
into him in his childhood, making one last
stand against the influences that had swayed
him in Madaura that still swayed him the
influences of the corrupt world in which he
lived ? We do not know. If it was so, the
HOW AUGUSTINE WENT TO CARTHAGE, AND
HOW PATRICIUS DIED A CHRISTIAN DEATH
AUGUSTINE S year at home did not do for
him what Monica had hoped. His old pagan
schoolfellows gathered round him; he was
always with them ; the happy home-life
seemed to have lost its charm. The want
of principle and of honour in most of them
disgusted him in his better moments; never
theless he was content to enjoy himself in
their company. He was even ashamed, when
they boasted of their misdoings, to seem more
innocent than they, and would pretend to be
worse than he really was, lest his prestige
should suffer in their eyes. There were
moments when he loathed it all, and longed
for the old life, with its innocent pleasures;
but it is hard to turn back on the downhill
56 ST. MONICA
He tells us how he went one night with a
band of these wild companions to rob the
fruit-tree of a poor neighbour. It was laden
with pears, but they were not very good ; they
did not care to eat them, and threw them to
the pigs. It was not schoolboy greed that
prompted the theft, but the pure delight of
doing evil, of tricking the owner of the garden.
There was the wild excitement, too, of the
daring; the fear that they might be caught
in the act. He was careful to keep such
escapades a secret from his mother, but
Monica was uneasy, knowing what might be
expected from the companions her son had
Patricius was altogether unable to give
Augustine the help that he needed. The
Christian ideals of life and conduct were new
to him as yet; the old pagan ways seemed
only natural. He was scarcely likely to be
astonished at the fact that his son s boyhood
was rather like what his own had been. He
was standing, it is true, on the threshold of the
Church, but her teaching was not yet clear to
him. His own feet were not firm enough in
THE CHARITY OF CHRIST 57
the ways of Christ to enable him to stretch
a steadying hand to another.
His mother was failing fast; the end could
not be far off. Monica was devoting herself
heart and soul to the old woman, who clung
to her with tender affection, and was never
happy in her absence.
Patricius watched them together, and mar
velled at the effects of the grace of Baptism.
Was that indeed his mother, he asked him
self, that gentle, patient old woman, so
thoughtful for others, so ready to give up her
own will ? She had used to be violent and
headstrong like himself, resentful and im
placable in her dislikes, but now she was more
like Monica than like him. That was Mon
ica s way, though; her sweetness and patience
seemed to be catching. She was like the
sunshine, penetrating everywhere with its
light and warmth. He, alas ! was far behind
his mother. Catechumen though he was, the
old temper would often flash out still. Self-
conquest was the hardest task that he had
ever undertaken, and sometimes he almost
lost heart, and was inclined to give it up
58 ST. MONICA
altogether. Then Monica would gently re
mind him that with God s help the hardest
things were possible, and they would kneel
and pray together, and Patricius would take
heart again for the fight. She had a won
derful gift for giving people courage ; Patricius
had noticed that before. He supposed it
was because she was so full of sympathy,
and always made allowances. And then she
seemed to think to be sure, even that if
one went on trying, failures did not matter,
God did riot mind them; and that was a very
comforting reflection for poor weak people
like himself. To go on trying was possible
even for him, although he knew he could not
always promise himself success.
Patricius was anxious about Augustine s
future. All his efforts had not succeeded in
saving the sum required for his first year at
Carthage. He had discovered that it would
cost a good deal more than he had at first
supposed, and it was difficult to see where the
money was to come from.
It was at this moment that Romanianus,
a wealthy and honourable citizen of Tagaste,
who knew the poverty of his friend, came for-
ward generously and put his purse at Patri-
cius s disposal. The sum req aired was offered
with such delicacy that it could not be de
clined. Augustine was sure to bring glory on
his native town, said Romanianus; it was an
honour to be allowed to help in his educa
Monica was almost glad to see her son
depart. The old boyish laziness had given
way to a real zeal for learning and thirst after
knowledge. The idle life at home was cer
tainly the worst thing for him. Hard work
and the pursuit of wisdom might steady his
wild nature and bring him back to God. It
was her only hope now, as with prayers and
tears she besought of Him to watch over
But Monica did not know Carthage. If it
was second only to Rome for its culture and
its schools, it almost rivalled Rome in its
corruption. There all that was worst in the
civilization of the East and of the West met
and mingled. The bloody combats between
men and beasts, the gladiatorial shows that
delighted the Romans, were free to all
who chose to frequent the amphitheatre of
60 ST. MONICA
Carthage. Such plays as the Romans de
lighted in, impossible to describe, were acted
in the theatre. The horrible rites of the
Eastern religions were practised openly.
There was neither discipline nor order in the
schools. The wealthier students gloried in
their bad reputation. They were young men
of fashion who were capable of anything, and
who were careful to let others know it. They
went by the name of " smashers " or " up-
setters," from their habit of raiding the
schools of professors whose teaching they
did not approve, and breaking everything on
which they could lay hands. They treated
new-comers with coarse brutality, but Augus
tine seems in some manner to have escaped
their enmity. Perhaps a certain dignity in
the young man s bearing, or perhaps his
brilliant gifts, won their respect, for he sur
passed them all in intelligence, and speedily
outstripped them in class.
Augustine was eager for knowledge and
eager for enjoyment. He frequented the
theatre; his pleasure-loving nature snatched
at everything that life could give; yet he
was not happy. " My God," he cried in
ANSWERED PRAYERS 61
later years, " with what bitter gall didst Thou
in Thy great mercy sprinkle those pleasures
of mine!" He could not forget; and at
Tagaste his mother was weeping and praying
for her son.
Patricius prayed with her; he understood
at last. Every day the germs of a noble
nature that had lain so long dormant within
him were gaining strength and life. Every
day his soul was opening more and more to
the understanding of spiritual things, while
Monica watched the transformation with a
heart that overflowed with gratitude and love.
The sorrows of the past were all forgotten in
the joy of the present, that happy union at
the feet of Christ. There was but one cause
for sadness Patricius s health was failing.
His mother had already shown him the joys
of a Christian deathbed. She had passed
away smiling, with their hands in hers, and
the name of Jesus on her lips. The beautiful
prayers of the Church had gone down with
the departing soul to the threshold of
the new life, and had followed it into
eternity. She seemed close to them still in
the light of that wonderful new Faith, and
62 ST. MONICA
to be waiting for them in their everlasting
But Monica s happiness was to be short
lived, for it seemed that Palricius would
soon rejoin his mother. He did not deceive
himself. He spoke of his approaching death
to Monica, and asked her to help him to
make a worthy preparation for Baptism,
which he desired to receive as soon as possible.
With the simplicity and trustfulness of a
child, he looked to her for guidance, and did
all that she desired.
The ceremony over, he turned to his wife
and smiled. A wonderful peace possessed
him. The old life, with all its stains, had
passed from him in those cleansing waters;
the new life was at hand. Once more he
asked her to forgive him all the pain he had
caused her, all that he had made her suffer.
No, she must not grieve, he told her; the
parting would be but for a little while, the
meeting for all eternity. She had been his
angel, he said; he owed all his joy to her. It
was her love, her patience, that had done it
all. She had shown him the beauty of good
ness and made him love it. He thanked her
DEATH OF PATRICIUS 63
for all that she had been to him, all that she
had shown him, all that she had done for
him. Her tears fell on his face, her loving
arms supported him; her sweet voice, broken
with weeping, spoke words of hope and com
On the threshold of that other world Monica
bade farewell to her husband, and one more
soul that she had won for Christ went out
into a glorious eternity.
HOW ST. MONICA LIVED IN THE DAYS OF HER
WIDOWHOOD, AND HOW SHE PUT ALL HER
TRUST IN GOD
PATRICIUS had not much in the way of
worldly goods to leave to his wife. She
needed little, it is true, for herself, but there
was Augustine. Would it be possible for her,
even if she practised the strictest economy,
to keep him at Carthage, where he was doing
so well ?
Romanianus divined her anxiety, and
hastened to set it at rest. He had a house
in Carthage, he said; it should be Augustine s
as long as he required it. This would settle
the question of lodging. For the rest, con
tinued Romanianus, as an old friend of
Patricius he had the right to befriend his
son, and Monica must grant him the privilege
of acting a father s part to Augustine until
he was fairly launched in life. He had a child
of his own, a young son called Licentius. If
Monica would befriend his boy, they would
be quits. The gratitude of both mother and
son towards this generous friend and bene
factor lasted throughout their lives. Licen
tius was to feel its effects more than once.
You it was, Romanianus/ wrote Augus
tine in his Confessions, " who, when I was a
poor young student in Carthage, opened to
me your house, your purse, and still more
your heart. You it was who, when I had
the sorrow to lose my father, comforted me
by your friendship, helped me with your ad
vice, and assisted me with your fortune."
Monica mourned her husband s death with
true devotion; but hers was not a selfish
sorrow. She had love and sympathy for all
who needed them, and forgot her own grief
in solacing that of others. There were cer
tain good works which the Church gave to
Christian widows to perform. The hospitals,
for instance, were entirely in their hands.
They were small as yet, built according to
the needs of the moment from the funds
of the faithful, and held but few patients.
66 ST. MONICA
These devoted women succeeded each other
at intervals in their task of washing and
attending to the sick, watching by their beds
and cleaning their rooms. Their ministra
tions did not even cease there. With reverent
care they prepared the dead for burial, think
ing the while of the preparation of Christ s
body for the tomb, and of Him who said:
Inasmuch as ye do it to the least of My
brethren ye do it unto Me."
It was a h;i.ppy moment for Monica when
her turn came to serve the sick. She would
kiss their sores for very pity as she washed
and dressed them, and their faces grew bright
at her coming. They called her " mother."
It seemed such a natural name to give her,
for she was a mother to them all, and gave
them a mother s love. To some of the poor
creatures, friendless slaves as they often were,
who had known little sympathy or tender
ness in their hard lives, it was a revelation
of Christianity which taught them more than
hours of preaching could have done.
But there was other work besides that at
the hospital. There were the poor to be
helped, the hungry to be fed, the naked
A WIDOW S WORK 67
to be clothed. She would gather the orphan
children at her knee to teach them the
truths of their Faith. When they were
very poor, she would keep them in her
own house, feed them at her own table, and
clothe them with her own hands. "If I am
a mother to these motherless ones," she
would say to herself, " He will have mercy
and give me back my boy; if I teach them
to know and love Him as a Father, He will
watch over my son."
It was a custom of the time on the feasts
of saints and martyrs to make a pilgrimage
to their tombs, with a little basket of food
and wine. This was laid on tht grave, after
which the faithful would partake of what
they had brought, while they thought and
spoke of Hie noble lives of God s servants
who had gone before. The custom was
abolished not long after on account of the
abuses which had arisen, but Monica observed
it to the end. She scarcely tasted of her
offering herself, but gave it all away to the
poor. Often, indeed, she went cold and
hungry that they might be clothed and fed.
Her love of prayer, too, could now find full
68 ST. MONICA
scope. Every morning found her in her place
in church for the Holy Sacrifice; every even
ing she was there again, silent, absorbed in
God. The place where she knelt was often
wet with her tears; the time passed by un
heeded. Patricius, her husband, was safe in
God s hands; but Augustine, her eldest-born,
her darling, in what dark paths was he
wandering ? And yet in her heart of hearts
there was a deep conviction that no sad news
of his life at Carthage could shake. His was
not the nature to find contentment in the
things of earth. He was born to something
higher. His noble heart, his strong intel
ligence, would bring him back to God.
And yet, and yet . . . her heart sank as
she thought of graces wasted, of conscience
trampled underfoot, of light rejected. No,
there was no hope anywhere but with God.
In Him she would trust, and in Him alone.
He was infinite in mercy, and strong to save.
He had promised that He would never fail
those who put their trust in Him. At His
feet, and at His feet alone, Monica poured
out her tears and her sorrow. With others
she was serene and hopeful as of old, even
AUGUSTINE AT CARTHAGE 69
joyous, always ready to help and comfort.
It was said of her after her death that no one
had such a gift of helping others as she. She
never preached at people most people have
an insurmountable dislike to being preached
at but every word she said had a strange
power of drawing souls to God, of making
them wish to be better.
Augustine, meanwhile, at Carthage, was
justifying all the hopes that had been formed
of him. He had even greater gifts, it seemed,
than eloquence, feeling, and wit. He was
at the head of his class in rhetoric. His
master had spoken to him of a certain treatise
of Aristotle which he would soon be called
upon to study. It was so profound, he said,
that few could understand it, even with the
help of the most learned professors. Augus
tine, eager to make acquaintance with this
wonderful work, procured it at once and read
it. It seemed to him perfectly simple; it was
unnecessary, he found, to ask a single ex
It was the same with geometry, music,
every science he took up. This young genius
of nineteen only discovered there were diffi-
70 ST. MONICA
culties in the way when he had to teach
others, and realized how hard it was to make
them understand what was so exceedingly
simple to himself.
There was something strangely sympathetic
and attractive about Augustine. He seemed
modest and reserved about his own gifts,
although he himself tells us in his Confessions
that he was full of pride and ambition. He
had a gift of making true and faithful friends,
a charm in conversation that drew his young
companions and even older men to his side.
A more worldly mother than Monica would
have been thoroughly proud of her son,
Faith and virtue were alone weak and faint
in that soul that could so ill do without them;
but to her they were the one essential thing;
the rest did not matter. Yet Monica, with
true insight, believed that with noble minds
knowledge must draw men to God; she
hoped much, therefore, that Augustine s bril
liance of intellect would save him in the end,
and her hopes were not deceived.
Already the noble philosophy of Cicero-
pagan though he was had awakened a thirst
for wisdom in the young student s soul;
THE MANICHEANS 71
already he felt the emptiness of earthly joys.
" I longed, my God/ he writes, "to fly from
the things of earth to Thee, and I knew not
that it was Thou that wast working in
me. . . ."
" One thing cooled my ardour," he goes
on to say; " it was that the Name of Christ
was not there, and this Name, by Thy mercy,
Lord, of Thy Son, my Saviour, my heart had
drawn in with my mother s milk, and kept
in its depths, and every doctrine where this
Name did not appear, fluent, elegant, and
truth-like though it might be, could not
master me altogether."
He then turned to the Holy Scriptures,
but they appeared to him inferior in style to
Cicero. " My pride," he writes, " despised
the manner in which the things are said, and
my intelligence could not discover the hidden
sense. They become great only for the hum
ble, and I disdained to humble myself, and,
inflated with vainglory, I believed myself
It was at this moment that he came in
contact with the Manicheans, whose errors
attracted him at once. This extraordinary
72 ST. MONICA
heresy had begun in the East, and had spread
all over the civilized world. Its followers
formed a secret society, with signs and pass
words, grades and initiations. To impose on
Christians they used Christian words for doc
trines that were thoroughly unchristian.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about
them was their hatred of the Church. Augus
tine, who remained amongst them for nine
years, thus describes them when writing to
a friend :
Thou knowest, Honoratus, that for this
reason alone did we fall into the hands of
these men namely, that they professed to
free us from all errors, and bring us to God
by pure reason alone, without that terrible
principle of authority. For what else in
duced me to abandon the faith of my child
hood and follow these men for almost nine
years, but their assertion that we were terri
fied by superstition into a faith blindly im
posed upon our reason, while they urged no
one to believe until the truth was fully dis
cussed and proved ? Who would not be
seduced by such promises, especially if he
were a proud, contentious young man, thirst-
AN EASY DOCTRINE 73
ing for truth, such as they then found
That was what the Manicheans promised.
What Augustine found amongst them he also
They incessantly repeated to me, Truth,
truth/ but there was no truth in them.
They taught what was false, not only about
Thee, my God, Who art the very Truth, but
even about the elements of this world, Thy
So much for their doctrines; as for the
teachers themselves, he found them " carnal
and loquacious, full of insane pride."
The great charm of Manicheism to Augus
tine was that it taught that a man was not
responsible for his sins. This doctrine was
convenient to one who could not find the
strength to break with his bad habits.
" Such was my mind," he sums up later,
looking back on this period of his life, " so
weighed down, so blinded by the flesh, that
I was myself unknown to myself."
HOW ST. MONICA S HEART WAS WELL NIGH
BROKEN BY THE NEWS THAT HER SON
HAD ABJURED THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
ILL news travels fast. Augustine had
scarcely joined the Manicheans before the
tidings reached Monica. At first she could
hardly believe it. This was a blow for which
she had not been prepared ; it crushed her to
the earth. She would have grieved less over
the news of her son s death.
And yet she bent her broken heart to God s
will, and hoped on in Him " Whose Mercy
cannot fail." Augustine had renounced the
Faith of his childhood publicly, she heard
later; he had been entered by the Manicheans
as an " auditor," the first degree of initiation
in their sect. And with all the zeal and
ardour that he carried into everything he did
he was advocating this abominable heresy
A GREAT SORROW 75
and persuading his companions to follow his
Her eyes grew dim with weeping for her
son. He was dead indeed to God that God
who was her All in All. The vacation was
near, and Augustine would then return to
Tagaste. Perhaps she would find that it was
not so bad as she had thought. It might be
only the whim of a moment; she would wait
Alas ! the hope was vain. Augustine had
scarcely been a day at home before he began
obstinately to air his new opinions, deter
mined that she should listen. Then the
Christian in Monica rose above the mother;
her horror of heresy was for the moment
stronger than her love for her son. Standing
before him, outraged and indignant, she told
him plainly that if lie spoke in such a way she
could no longer receive him at her table or
in her house.
Augustine was amazed; he had found out
at last the limits of his mother s endurance.
With bent head he left the house and sought
the hospitality of Romanianus. No sooner
had he gone than Monica s heart melted, the
76 ST. MONICA
mother-love surged up again. With bitter
tears she cried on God to help her; her grief
seemed greater than she could bear. At last
the night came, and with it peace. As she
slept, exhausted with weeping, she had a
dream which brought her a strange sense of
hope and comfort.
It seemed to her that she was standing on
a narrow rule or plank of wood, her heart
weighed down with sorrow as it had been
all through the day. Suddenly there came
towards her a young man radiant and fair
of face. Smiling at her, he asked the cause
of her tears. " I am weeping," she answered,
" for the loss of my son." " Grieve no more,
then," he replied, " for, look, your son is
standing there beside you." Monica turned
her head. It was true; Augustine stood at
her side on the plank of wood. " Be of good
cheer," continued the stranger, " for where
you are there shall he be also." Then Monica
awoke; the words were ringing in her ears;
it seemed to her that God had spoken.
In the morning she went straight to Augus
tine and told him of her dream. " Perhaps,"
suggested her son, anxious to turn it to his
THE BISHOP S PROPHECY 77
own advantage,, " it means that you will
come to see things as I do/ " No/ said
Monica firmly, " for he did not say, Where
he is you shall be, but, Where you are there
he shall be. Augustine was even more
struck by the earnestness of his mother s
answer than by the dream itself, though he
pretended to make light of both.
Nut long after Monica went to see a certain
holy Bishop, that she might beg him to use
his influence with Augustine to bring him
back to the truth. The wise old man listened
attentively to her story. " Let him alone for
the present, but pray much," w r as his advice,
" for as yet he is obstinate and puffed up with
these new ideas. If what you tell me of your
son is true, he will read for himself, and will
find out his error." Then, seeing the anguish
of the poor mother, he told her that he himself
in his youth had been led away by the
Manicheans, and had even been employed in
transcribing their works. It was that which
had saved him; for, as he wrote, the truth
became clear to him; he had seen how much
their doctrines were to be avoided. Then, as
Monica wept for disappointment for she had
78 ST. MONICA
counted greatly on his help a sudden pity
seized him. " Go thy ways, and God bless
thec," he eried. " It is impossible that a son
of such tears should perish."
Monica s dream and the words of the
Bishop were like rays of light in the darkness.
She drew fresh hope from them and redoubled
The vacation drew to an end, and Augus
tine returned to Carthage, but not for long.
He was now twenty years old. His friend
and patron, Romanianus, was very anxious
that he should open a school in Tagaste while
waiting for something better, and this he
resolved to do. A little circle of pupils soon
gathered round him, who were later to follow
their young master in all his wanderings.
Amongst these was Alypius, an old school
fellow and a devoted friend; the sons of
Romanianus; and another friend of Augus
tine s childhood whose name we do not know,
but who was dearer to him than all the rest.
They were of the same age, had studied
together, had the same tastes, and the same
Influenced by Augustine, still warm in the
AUGUSTINE IS SURPRISED 79
praise of the Manicheans, he, as well as the
rest, had abjured the Catholic faith to join
Augustine had been about a year at Tagaste
when this friend was taken suddenly ill. He
lay unconscious in a burning fever; there
seemed to be no hope of recovery. He had
been a catechumen before he had joined the
Manicheans. His parents, who were Chris
tians, having begged that he might be bap
tized before he died, the life-giving waters
were poured on him as he lay between life and
death. Augustine made no protest, so sure
was he that what he himself had taught him
before he was taken ill would have more
influence than a rite administered without
his knowledge or consent. To everybody s
surprise the young man recovered his senses
and began to mend.
Augustine then laughingly told him what
they had been doing, and went on to make
fun of the whole proceeding, never doubting
but that the sick man would enjoy the joke
as much as he did. To his great surprise his
friend turned from him in horror.
Never speak to me in such a way
8o ST. MONICA
again if you wish to keep my affection/ he
" We will talk this matter out when you
are stronger," thought Augustine. But a
few days later the invalid had a relapse, and
died with the white robe of his Baptism still
Augustine was inconsolable. Everything
in Tagaste reminded him of the dear com
panion of his boyhood. " My own country
became a punishment to me," he writes,
" and my father s house a misery, and all
places or things in which I had communicated
with him were turned into a bitter torment
to me, being now without him. My eyes
sought him everywhere, and I hated all
things because they had him not." The
thought of death was full of horror to him,
and he gave way to a deep depression. His
health, never very robust, began to suffer.
Romanianus, much as he wished to keep
him at Tagaste, realized that a change of
scene would be the best thing for him, and
agreed to his proposal to return to Carthage
and open a school of rhetoric. Alypius and
his other disciples followed him, and in the
A STRANGE OFFER 81
rush of the great city Augustine regained, to
some extent, his peace of mind. While
teaching, he continued his own studies, and
competed for the public prizes. Many men
of note joined his school, and his name began
to be famous.
He greatly desired honour, he tells us, but
only if honourably won. One day a certain
magician paid him a visit. He had heard,
he said, that Augustine was about to compete
for one of the State prizes in rhetoric. What
would he be ready to give if he could insure
him the victory ? It was only necessary to
offer some living creatures in sacrifice to the
demons whom he worshipped and success
would be certain. Augustine turned from
him in horror and disgust. He had not yet
fallen so low as this.
" I would not sacrifice a fly," he retorted
hotly, " to win a crown of gold !"
The magician retired in haste, and Augus
tine, who succeeded in carrying off the prize
without the help of the demons, was publicly
crowned by the Pro-Consul Vindicius, who
from thenceforth joined the circle of his
82 ST. MONICA
The news of his success reached Monica.
Her mother s heart rejoiced in his triumph,
but her joy was tempered with sorrow.
Carthage had taken more from her son than
it could ever give him, and her thoughts were
of other victories and other crowns. During
his stay in Tagaste, although Augustine had
not lived under the same roof with his mother,
he had been continually with her. Her tender
affection had been his greatest comfort in
the deep sorrow after his friend s death. He
spoke no more to her of religion, and she,
mindful of the old Bishop s words, was also
"While I was struggling in the mire and
in the darkness of error," writes Augustine,
" that holy, chaste, devout, and sober widow
(such as Thou lovest) ceased not in all the
hours of her prayers to bewail me in Thy sight.
And her prayers were admitted into Thy
Presence, and yet Thou sufferedst me to go
on still, and to be involved in that darkness."
The darkness was indeed great, but the
fires were still smouldering beneath the ashes.
Love, honour, and success were all his, and
yet he was not content. There was some-
A GLEAM OF HOPE 83
thing in his soul that none of these things
could satisfy. " After Thee, O Truth/ he
cries, " I hungered and thirsted 1" His heart
still ached for the loss of his friend, he turned
everywhere for comfort and found none.
He sought forgetfulness in study. He wrote
two books on the " Beautiful " and the " Apt,"
and dedicated them to Hierus, a famous
Roman orator. " It seemed to me a great
thing/ he tells us, " that my style and my
studies should be known to such a man."
Monica drew fresh hope from her son s
writings. They were fuU of noble thoughts
and high aspirations. Such a mind could not
remain in error. Some day, surely, in God s
good time, he would come to know the
HOW AUGUSTINE PLANNED TO GO TO ROME,
AND HOW HE CRUELLY DECEIVED HIS
IT was about tins time that Augustine s
enthusiasm for the Manichcans began to cool.
He had been studying their doctrines, and
had found that they wore not quite what he
thought. He was disappointed with their
The first unpleasant truth that dawned
upon him was that they were much better at
denying the doctrines of the Catholic Church
than at explaining their own. It was almost
impossible to find out what they believed, so
vague did they become when closely ques
tioned. And Augustine questioned very
closely indeed. He was on the track of
truth, and it was not easy to put him off
with hazy general statements. He was still
FAUST US 85
only an " auditor," and before lie took any
further step he wasted to be certain of his
ground. The men whom he consulted did
not seem very certain of their own, he re
marked, but they bade him have patience.
One of their bishops, Faust is by name, was
soon coming to Carthage. He was one of
their most brilliant preachers, and would be
able to answer all Augustine s questions.
This sounded promising, and Augustine
awaited his coming impatiently. He cer
tainly was an eloquent speaker; his sermons
were charming. But when Augustine went
to him privately and explained his doubts to
him, the result was not what he had hoped
lor. He gave the same vague answers that
Augustine had so often hoard already.
Pressed closer, he frankly replied that he
was not learned enough to be able to
satisfy him. Augustine was pleased with his
honesty, and they became good friends. But
the seeker was no nearer the truth than
Yet if Faustus could not answer him,
which of the Manicheans could ? He began
to lose faith in them.
86 ST. MONICA
What did the Catholic Church teach on
these points ? he asked. This was a question
which they could all answer, and did with
great eagerness and little truth.
It might have occurred to a less intelligent
man than Augustine that the enemies of the
Church were not the people to answer such a
question fairly or truthfully : but he accepted
their facts, and decided that truth was not
to be found there either. Was there such a
thing at all ? was the final question he asked
himself. The old philosophers, heathens as
they were, seemed to get nearer to the heart of
things than this.
Yet now and again, out of the very sickness
of his soul, a prayer would break out to that
Christ Whom he had known and loved in his
boyhood, but Who had grown so dim to him
since the Manicheans had taught him that
His Sacred Humanity was nothing but a
shadow. He was weary of life, weary even
of pleasure, weary of everything, weary most
of all of Carthage.
Owing to the wild ways of the students it
was impossible to keep anything like order
in the schools. Classes were constantly inter-
THOUGHTS OF ROME 87
rupted by gangs of " smashers/ who might
break in at any moment, setting the whole
place in an uproar.
Augustine s friends pressed him to go to
Rome. There, they urged, he would meet
with the honour that he deserved. There Hie
students were quieter and better-mannered;
no rioting was allowed; scholars might enter
no school but that of their own master. This
sounded hopeful; Augustine was rather
pleased with the idea. He wrote to Monica
and to his patron Romanianus to tell them
of the step he proposed to take.
Monica s heart sank when she read the
letter. To the Christians of the fourth cen
tury Rome was another Babylon. She had
poured out the blood of the saints like water ;
she was the home of every abomination.
What would become of Augustine in Rome ?
Without faith, without ideals, a disabled ship,
drifting with every wind.
He must not go, she decided, or if he did
she would go with him. She prayed that she
might be able to make him give up the
project, and wrote strongly against it; but
Augustine had already made up his mind.
88 ST. MONICA
Then, in despair, she set out for Carthage to
make one last effort.
Her son was touched by her grief and her
entreaties, but his plans were made: he was
to start that very night. " I lied to my
mother," he says, " and such a mother !"
He assured her that he was not going, that
she might set her mind at rest. A friend of
his was leaving Carthage, and he had prom
ised to go down to the harbour to see him off.
Some instinct warned Monica that he was
deceiving her. " I will go with you," she
said. This was very awkward for her son;
he was at his wit s end to know what to do.
They went down to the harbour together,
where they found Augustine s friend. No
ship could put out that night, the sailors
said, the wind was dead against them. The
young men were unwilling to leave the har
bour in case the wind should change and
they should miss the boat, while Monica was
determined not to leave Augustine.
They walked up and down together on the
seashore in the cool evening air. The hours
passed, and the situation became more and
more difficult for Augustine. What was he
THE CHAPEL ON THE SHORE 89
to do ? Monica was weary and worn out
with grief. An idea suggested itself to him
suddenly. It was no use waiting any longer,
he said, it would be better to take some
rest; the boat would certainly not start that
Monica was in no mood to rest; but Augus
tine knew her love of prayer. There was a
little chapel on the seashore, dedicated to
St. Cyprian. Would she not at least go
there and take shelter until the morning?
He promised her again that he would not
leave Carthage, and she at last consented,
for her soul was full of sorrow.
Kneeling there in the stillness of the little
chapel, she poured out the troubles of her
heart to God, beseeching Him that He would
not let Augustine leave her. The answer
seemed a strange one. As she prayed the
wind suddenly changed; the sailors prepared
to depart. Augustine and his friend went
on board, and the ship set sail for Rome.
The last thing they saw as the shore faded
away in the dim grey of the morning was the
little chapel of St. Cyprian lying like a speck
in the distance. But they did not see a
9 o ST. MONICA
lonely figure that stood on the sand and
stretched out piteous hands to Heaven,
wailing for the son whom she had lost a second
It was God alone Who knew all the bitter
ness of that mother s heart. It was God
alone Who knew how, after the first uncon
trollable outburst of grief, she bent herself
in faith and love to endure the heartbreak-
silent and uncomplaining. And it was only
God Who knew that the parting that seemed
so cruel was to lead to the granting of her
life-long prayer, to be the first stage in her
son s conversion.
" She turned herself to Thee to pray for
me," says Augustine, " and went about her
accustomed affairs, and I arrived at Rome."
It seemed, indeed, as if his arrival in Rome
was destined to be the end of his earthly
career, for soon afterwards he was attacked
by a violent fever and lay at death s door.
He was lodging in the house of a Manichean,
for, although he no longer held with their
doctrines, he had many friends among them
in Carthage who had recommended him to
some of their sect in Rome.
Augustine himself was convinced that he
owed his life at this time to his mother s
prayers. God would not, for her sake, let
him be cut off thus in all his sins, unbaptizcd
and unrepentant, lest that mother s heart
should be broken and her prayers unan
swered. He recovered, and began to teach.
Already while he was in Carthage he had
suspected that the lives of the Manicheans
were not much better than those of the
heathens among whom they lived, although
they gave out that their creed was the only
one likely to reform human nature. In Rome
his suspicions were confirmed. Thinking that
Augustine was altogether one of themselves,
they threw off the mask and showed them
selves in their true colours.
The pagans at least were honest. They
professed openly that they lived for nothing
but enjoyment, and in this great city, even
more than in Carthage, one could learn how
low a man might fall; but at least they were
not hypocrites. He resolved to cut himself
adrift from the Manicheans altogether.
There was a Christian Rome within the
pagan Rome, but of this Augustine knew
92 ST. MONICA
nothing. On the Throne of the Fisherman
sat St. Damasus, wise and holy. His secre
tary, St. Jerome,, was already famous,, no less
for his eloquence than for the greatness of
his character. Jerome, like Augustine, had
been carried away in his youth by the down
ward tide, but had retrieved himself by a
glorious penance. The descendants of the
oldest Roman families were to be found in
the hospitals tending the sick or working
amongst the poor in the great city. The first
monasteries were growing up, little centres of
faith and prayer in the desert. They were
peopled by men and women who had counted
the world well lost for Christ, or by those
who to save their souls had fled, as the great
St. Benedict was to do later, from the cor
ruptions that had dragged down so many into
Augustine had been greatly attracted
shortly before leaving Carthage by the
preaching of Helpidius, a Catholic priest.
The idea came to him while in Rome to go
to the Catholics and find out what they
really taught. But he dismissed it. The
Manicheans had already told him, he reflected,
that no intelligent man could accept their
doctrines. Besides, they were too strict;
their ideals were too high; he would have to
give up too much.
One more honest impulse was stifled. He
entered a school of philosophers who professed
to believe in nothing. It was, he decided, the
wisest philosophy he knew.
HOW AUGUSTINE CAME TO MILAN, AND HOW
HIS TEMPEST- TOSSED SOUL FOUND LIGHT
AND PEACE AT LAST
AUGUSTINE had not been a year in Rome
before he discovered that the ways of the
Roman students were not quite so delightful
as he had been led to believe. They were less
insolent, it is true, than those of Carthage,
and not so rough ; but they had other defects
which were quite as trying. They would,
for instance, attend the classes of a certain
professor until the time arrived to pay their
fees, when, deserting in a body to another
school, they would proceed to play the same
trick there. It was certainly one way of
getting an education for nothing, but it was
hard on the teachers. It seemed scarcely
the profession in which one would be likely
to make a fortune, even if it were possible to
earn one s daily bread. Augustine was dis
couraged and sick at heart; everything seemed
to be against him; there was no hope, no
light anywhere. His life seemed doomed to
be a failure, in spite of all his gifts.
And then, quite suddenly, came the open
ing that he had longed for. Symmachus,
the Prefect of Rome, received a letter from
Milan, requesting him to name a professor
of rhetoric for the vacant chair in that city.
A competition was announced in which
Symmachus, himself a well-known orator,
was to be the judge. Augustine entered and
won the prize. It was an excellent and
honourable position. The professor was sup
ported by the State. The Emperor Valen-
tinian held his Court in the city, which gave
it a certain position.
Augustine was furnished with letters of
introduction to Ambrose, the Bishop, who
had been brilliantly successful at the Bar in
his youth, and was probably an old friend of
Symmachus. He was of a noble Roman
family, and famous alike for his great learning
and peculiar charm of manner. He was
famous also for his holiness of life, but this
96 ST. MONICA
was of less interest to Augustine; it was
Ambrose the orator with whom he desired
to make acquaintance.
No sooner had he arrived in Milan than
he presented himself before the Bishop, who
received him with a cordial courtesy that
attracted Augustine at once. The only way
to judge of his eloquence was to attend the
sermons at the cathedral. This Augustine
began to do regularly. He found that Am
brose had not been overpraised. He listened
to him at first with the pleasure it always
gave him to hear an eloquent speaker; then,
gradually, with a shock of surprise, he began
to attend to what the Bishop said, as well as
to his manner of saying it.
Ambrose was explaining the doctrines of
the Church. He spoke very clearly and
simply, to the intelligence no less than to
the heart, for there were many catechumens
in his congregation, as well as pagans who
were seeking for the truth.
The Manicheans had deceived him, then,
thought Augustine; they had lied about the
Church s teaching; or they themselves had
been ignorant of it, and he had let himself
ST. MONICA AT MILAN 97
be deceived. This was altogether unlike
what they had told him. It was noble and
sublime; all that was great and good in him
responded. Had he found the Truth at last ?
In the meantime Monica, determined to
rejoin her son, arrived in Milan. The journey
had been long and dangerous; they had been
assailed by terrible storms; even the sailors
had lost courage. It was she who had com
forted them in their fear. The storm will
soon be over," she assured them; " I know
that we shall reach our journey s end in
safety." She had a strong conviction that
she would not die until her prayers had won
Augustine back to God. The sailors took
heart again at her words; her calm eyes
strengthened them; they felt that this gentle
woman knew things that were hidden from
Monica s first visit was to St. Ambrose.
The two noble natures understood each other
at once. " Thank God for having given you
such a mother," said the Bishop to Augustine,
when he met him a few days later; " she is
one in a thousand."
Much had happened since mother and son
98 ST. MONICA
had parted, and much had to be told. The
first thing that Monica heard was that
Augustine had left the Manicheans. At this
she rejoiced greatly; she was convinced, she
told him, that she would see him a Catholic
before she died. " Thus she spoke to me/
says Augustine, " but to Thee, O Fountain
of Mercy, she redoubled her prayers and her
tears, beseeching Thee to hasten Thine aid
and dispel my darkness." They went to
gether now to the sermons and sat side by
side in the Church as in the days of Augus
tine s childhood. One by one he laid aside
the false ideas of the truth that had been
given to him by the Manicheans. It was
growing clearer to him every day. True,
there was much that was above his under
standing- above the understanding of any
human being, as Ambrose frankly acknow
ledged but not above their faith. The
Manicheans had sneered at faith as childish
and credulous; and yet, thought Augustine,
how many things he believed that he could
have no possibility of proving. He believed,
for instance, that Hannibal had crossed the
Alps, although he had not been present at
THE DAWN OF HOPE 99
the time. He believed that Athens existed,
although he had never been there.
As of old, a little group of friends had
gathered round him at Milan. There was
Alypius, the most beloved of all his asso
ciates, who had taken the place of the dear
dead friend of his boyhood. There was
Romanianus, who was there on State business,
and Licentius, his son, with Trigetius, both
pupils of Augustine s; Nebridius, who had
been with him in Carthage, and was, like
himself, a native of Roman Africa; and
several new friends he had made in Milan.
It was agreed amongst them that they should
set apart a certain time every day to seek
for the truth, reading and discussing among
themselves. The Scriptures were to form
part of the reading.
" Great hope has dawned," wrote Augus
tine; " the Catholic Faith teaches not what
we thought and vainly accused it of. Life
is vain, death uncertain; if it steals upon us
of a sudden, in what state shall we depart
hence ? And where shall we learn what here
we have neglected ? Let us not delay to
seek after God and the blessed life."
ioo ST. MONICA
There was in Mihm a holy old priest called
SimplicianuSj greatly bek)ved by St. Am
brose, for he had been his teacher and guide
in early life. To him Augustine resolved to
go; he might be able to help him. He told
Simplicianus, amongst other tilings, that he
had been reading a book of philosophy trans
lated by a Roman called Victorinus. The
book was good, said Simplicianus, but the
story of Victorinus own life was better. He
had known him well in Rome. Augustine
was interested; he would like to hear the
story, he said.
Victorinus, said the old man, was a pagan
and a worshipper of the heathen gods. He
was a famous orator, and taught rhetoric to
some of the noblest citizens of Rome. He
was learned in every science, and was so
celebrated for his virtue that a statue had
been erected to him in the forum. In his
old age, after earnest study, he became a
Christian, but remained a long time a catechu
men through fears of what his friends would
say. At last taking courage, he prepared
himself for Baptism, and, to punish himself
for his human respect, insisted on reading his
SEARCITINGS OF SPIRIT 101
profession of faith aloud before the whole
congregation, instead of making it, as was
usual, in private.
This courageous action of an old man
made Augustine feel his own cowardice. He
believed now that the Catholic Church was
the true Church, and yet he could not face
the thought of Baptism. He would have to
give up so much. The Christian standard
was high for a man who had spent his life
in self-indulgence. He could never attain
to it. He took leave of Simplicianus sadly;
the help which he needed was not to be found
" I went about my usual business," he
says, " while my anxiety increased as I
daily sighed to Thee/ He frequented the
Church now even when there were no sermons,
for he began to feel the need of prayer.
One day when Alypius and he were alone
together there came in a friend of theirs,
Pontitianus, a devout Christian, who held a
post at the Emperor s Court. Finding the
Epistles of St. Paul upon the table, he smiled
at Augustine, saying that he was glad that
he was reading them, for they were full of
102 ST. MONICA
teaching. He began to tell them about St.
Anthony, and of the man} hermitages and
monasteries in Egypt, and even here in his
own country. He spoke to them of the
monastic life and its virtues, and, seeing their
interest and astonishment, went on to tell
them an incident that had happened a short
Two young men of the Imperial Court,
friends of his own, walking together in the
country, came to a cottage inhabited by some
holy recluses. A life of St. Anthony lay on
the table. One of them took it up and began
to read. His first feeling was one of astonish
ment, his second of admiration. " How un
certain life is!" he said suddenly to his com
panion. " We are in the Emperor s service.
I wish we were in God s; I had rather be His
friend than the Emperor s." He read on,
with sighs and groans. At last he shut the
book and arose. " My mind is made up,"
he said; " I shall enter God s service here
and now. If you will not do so too, at least
do not try to hinder me." " You have
chosen well," said the other; " I am with you
in this." They never left the hermitage.
A BITTER STRUGGLE 103
This story only increased Augustine s
misery. He had had more graces than these
young men, and had wasted them; he was a
coward. When Pontitianus had gone away,
he left Alypius and went out into the
garden. Alypius followed and sat down
" What are we about !" cried Augustine
hotly. " The unlearned take heaven by
force, and we, with all our heartless learning,
wallow in the mire !" He sank his face in
his hands and groaned. The way lay clear
before him; he had found the Eternal Truth
for which he had been seeking so long, and
he had not the c< /uragc to go further.
This and that he would have to do; this and
that he would have to give up he could not :
it was too hard.
And yet- to stand with both feet on the
rock of truth, was it not worth all this and
So the battle raged. Good and evil strug
gled together in his soul.
It seemed to him then that he saw a long
procession winding across the garden. It
passed him and faded in the distance. First
104 ST. MONICA
came boys and girls, young and weak, scarcely
more than children, and they mocked him
gently. " We have fought and conquered,"
they said, " even we." After them came a
great multitude of men and women in the
prime of life, some strong and vigorous, some
feeble and sickly. It seemed to Augustine
as if they looked at him with eyes full of
contempt. " We have lived purely," they
said, " we have striven and conquered."
They were followed by old men and women,
worn with age and suffering. They looked
at him reproachfully. " We have fought
and conquered," they said, " we have en
dured unto the end."
Augustine s self-control was leaving him;
even Ah pius presence was more than he
could bear. He leapt to his feet, went to
the other end of the garden, and, throwing
himself down on the ground, wept as if his
heart would break. His soul, tossed this way
and that in its anguish, cried desperately to
God for help.
Suddenly on the stillness of the summer
afternoon there broke the sound of a child s
voice, sweet, insistent. " Tolle, lege," it
THE AWAKENING 105
sang; " tolle, lege " ("Take and read").
Augustine stood up. There was no one
there; no human being was in sight. " Tolle,
lege; tolle, lege," rang the sweet voice again
and again in his ear, now on this side,
now on that. Was this the answer to his
He remembered how St. Anthony had
opened the sacred Scriptures on a like occa
sion, and had found the help that he required.
Going back to Alypius, he took up the sacred
volume and opened it. " Put ye on the
Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision
for the flesh and the concupiscence thereof,"
Light, strength, and conviction flowed into
his soul. With God s help all things were
possible; he would give up all and follow
Him. Then, having carefully marked the
place, he sat down beside Alypius and told
him of his resolution.
" What about me ?" asked Alypius. " Per
haps there is something there for me too.
Let me see." He took the book from Augus
tine, opened at the place he had marked,
and read: " He that is weak in the faith take
106 ST. MONICA
unto you." That will do very well for
me/ he said.
Augustine s first thought was for Monica.
He must go to her, and at once. They sat
together hand in hand until the sun sank in
a rose-coloured glory and the cool shadows
of the evening fell like a blessing on the earth.
There are some joys too deep for speech, too
holy to be touched by mortal hands.
HOW ST. MONICA LIVED AT CASSIACUM WITH
AUGUSTINE AND HIS FRIENDS, AND HOW
AUGUSTINE WAS BAPTIZED BY ST.
AMONGST the saints there arc two great peni
tents, St. Mary Magdalene and St. Augustine,
who in the first moment of their conversion
shook themselves wholly free from the tram
mels of the past and never looked back
" Thou hast broken my bonds in sunder,"
cries St. Augustine, " to Thee will I offer the
sacrifice of praise." Honours, wealth, plea
sure, all the things he had desired so passion
ately, were now as nothing to him. "For
Thou didst expel them from me," he says,
" and didst come in Thyself instead of them.
And I sang to Thee, my Lord God, my true
honour, my riches, and my salvation."
io3 ST. MONICA
The vacation was close at hand. Augus
tine resolved to give up his professorship and
to go away quietly to prepare himself for
Baptism. Verecundus, one of the little group
of faithful friends who surrounded him, had
a country house in Cassiacum, which he
offered for his use while he remained in Italy.
It was a happy party that gathered within its
walls. There were Augustine and his younger
brother Navigius; the faithful Alypius, who
was to receive Baptism with his friend;
Licentius and Trigetius, Augustine s two
pupils; and several others. Lastly there was
Monica, who was a mother to them all, and
whose sunny presence did much to enliven
the household. It was autumn, an Italian
mid-September. The country was a glory of
green and gold and crimson, the Apennines
lying like purple shadows in the distance.
Here, in the seclusion that was so dear to
his heart, Augustine read the Psalms for the
first time. His soul was on fire with their
beauty; every word carried him to God.
Monica read with him, and he tells us that he
would often turn to her for an explanation.
" For," he continues, " she was walking
steadily in the path in which I was as yet
feeling my way."
There were other studies besides to be
carried on, and St. Augustine tells us of some
of the interesting discussions that were held
on the lawn, or in the hall of the baths, which
they used when the weather was not fine
enough to go out.
One morning, when he and his pupils were
talking of the wonderful harmony and order
that exist in nature, the door opened and
Monica looked in.
" How are you getting on ?" she asked, for
she knew what they were discussing. Augus
tine invited her to join them, but Monica
smiled. " I have never heard of a woman
amongst the philosophers," she said.
That is a mistake," replied Augustine.
There were women philosophers amongst
the ancients, and you know, my dear mother,
that I like your philosophy very much.
Philosophy means nothing else but love of
wisdom. Now you love wisdom more even
than you love me, and I know how much that
is. Why, you are so far advanced in wisdom
that you fear no ill-fortune, not even death
no ST. MONICA
itself. Everybody says that this is the very
height of philosophy. I will therefore sit at
your feet as your disciple."
Monica, still smiling, told her son that he
had never told so many lies in his life. In
spite of her protests, however, they would
not let her go, and she was enrolled amongst
the philosophers. The discussions, says St.
Augustine, owed a good deal of their beauty
to her presence.
The 1 5th of November was Augustine s
birthday. After dinner he invited his friends
to come to the hall of the baths, that their
souls might be fed also.
" For I suppose you all admit," he said,
when they had settled themselves for con
versation, " that we are made up of soul
and body." To this everybody agreed but
Navigius, who was inclined to argue, and
who said he did not know.
" Do you mean," asked Augustine, " that
there is nothing at all that you do know, or
that of the few things you do not know this
is one ?"
Navigius was a little put out at this ques
tion, but they pacified him, and at last per-
THE PHILOSOPHERS in
suaclod him to say that he was as certain of
the fact that he was made up of body and
soul as anybody could be. They then agreed
that food was taken for the sake of the body.
" Must not the soul have its food too ?"
asked Augustine. " And what is that food ?
Is it not knowledge ?"
Monica agreed to this, but Trigetius ob
Why, you yourself," said Monica, " are
a living proof of it. Did you not tell us at
dinner that you did not know what you were
eating because you were lost in thought ?
Yet your teeth were working all the time.
Where was your soul at that moment if not
feeding too ?"
Then Augustine, reminding them that it
was his birthday, said that as he had already
given them a little feast for the body, he
would now give them one for the soul.
Were they hungry ? he asked.
There was an eager chorus of assent.
" Can a man be happy," he said, " if he
has not what he wants, and is he happy if
he has it ?"
Monica was the first to answer this ques-
H2 ST. MONICA
lion. " If lie wants what is good and has it,"
she replied, "he is happy. But if he wants
what is bad, he is not happy even if he has it."
" Well said, mother !" eried Augustine.
" You have reached the heights of philosophy
at a single bound."
Someone then said that if a man were
needy he could not be happy. Finally they
all agreed that only he who possessed God
could be wholly happy. But the discussion
had gone on for a long time, and Augustine
suggested that the soul might have too much
nourishment as well as the body, and that
it would be better to put off the rest until
The discussion was continued next day.
" Since only he who possesses God can be
happy, who is he who possesses God ?" asked
Augustine, and they were all invited to give
" He that leads a good life," answered one.
" He who does God s will," said another.
" He who is pure of heart," said a third.
Navigius would not say anything, but agreed
with the last speaker. Monica approved of
A DISCUSSION 113
St. Augustine continued: " It is God s will
that all should seek Him ?"
" Of course," they all replied.
" Can he who seeks God be leading a bad
" Certainly not," they said.
" Can a man who is not pure in heart seek
" No," they agreed.
Then," said Augustine, " what have we
here ? A man who leads a good life, does
God s will, and is pure of heart, is seeking
God. But he does not yet possess Him.
Therefore we cannot uphold that they who
lead good lives, do God s will, and arc pure
of heart, possess God."
They all laughed at the trap in which he
had caught them. But Monica, saying that
she was slow to grasp these things, asked
to have the argument repeated. Then she
thought a moment.
No one can possess God without seeking
Him," she said.
True," said Augustine, " but while he is
seeking he does not yet possess."
I think there is no one who does not have
ii. I ST. MONICA
God," she said. " But those who live well
have Him for their friend, and those who live
badly make themselves His enemies. Let us
change the statement, He who possesses God
is happy to He who has God for his friend
All agreed to this but Navigius.
"No," he said, "for this reason. If he is
happy who has God for his friend (and God
is the friend of those who seek Him, and those
who seek Him do not possess Him, for to this
all have agreed), then it is obvious that those
who are seeking God have not what they
want. And we all agreed yesterday that a
man cannot be happy unless he has what he
Monica could not see her way out of this
difficulty, although she was sure there was
one. " I yield," she said, " for logic is
"Well," said Augustine, "we have reached
the conclusion that he who has found God
has Him for his friend and is happy ; but he
who is still seeking God has Him for his
friend but is not yet happy. He, however,
who has separated himself from God by sin
A DISCUSSION i I5
has neither G;,d for his friend nor is he
This satisfied everybody.
The other side of the question was then
In what did unhappiness consist ?" asked
Monica maintained that neediness and un
happiness must go together. " For he who
has not what he wants/ she said, " is both
needy and unhappy."
Augustine then supposed a man who had
everything he wanted in this world. Could
it be said that he was needy ? Yet was it
certain that he was happy ?
Licentius suggested that there would remain
with him the fear of losing what he had.
That fear/ replied Augustine, " would
make him unhappy but would not make him
needy. Therefore we could have a man who
is unhappy without being needy."
To this everyone agreed but Monica, who
still argued that unhappiness could not be
separated from neediness.
1 This supposed man of yours/ she said
1 rich and fortunate, still fears to lose his
n6 ST. MONICA
good fortune. That shows that he wants
wisdom. Can we call a man who wants
money needy, and not call him so when he
wants wisdom ?"
At this remark there was a general outcry
of admiration. It was the very argument,
said Augustine, that he had meant to use
" Nothing," said Licentius, " could have
been more truly and divinely said. What,
indeed, is more wretched than to lack wis
dom ? And the wise man can never be
needy, whatever else he lacks."
Augustine then went on to define wisdom.
" The wisdom that makes us happy," he said,
" is the wisdom of God, and the wisdom of
God is the Son of God. Perfect life is the only
happy life," he continued, " and to this, by^
means of firm faith, cheerful hope, and burning
love we shall surely be brought if we but
hasten towards it."
So the discussion ended, and all were con
" Oh," cried Trigetius, " how I wish you
would provide us with a feast like this every
HOME AT LAST 117
" Moderation in all things/ answered
Augustine. "If this has been a pleasure to
you, it is God alone that you must thank."
So the happy innocent days flew past in
the pursuit of that wisdom which is eternal.
Too late have I loved Thee, O Beauty ever
ancient, ever new I" cried Augustine. " Be
hold Thou wast within me, and I was abroad,
and there I sought Thee. I have tasted Thee,
and I am hungry after Thee. Thou hast
touched me, and I am all on lire."
At the beginning of Lent Augustine and
Alypius returned to Milan to attend the
course of instructions which St. Ambrose was
to give to those who were preparing for
In the night between Holy Saturday and
Easter Sunday the stains of the past were
washed away for ever in those cleansing
waters, and at the Mass of the daybreak on
that blessed morning Augustine knelt at the
altar to receive his Lord. Monica was beside
him; her tears and her prayers had been
answered. She and her son were one again
in heart and soul.
HOW ST. MONICA SET OUT FOR AFRICA WITH
ST. AUGUSTINE, AND HOW SHE DIED AT
OSTIA ON THE TIBER
IN the old days at Milan, before his conversion,
Augustine had often told his friends that the
dream of his life was to live quietly some
where with a few friends, who would devote
themselves to the search for truth. It had
even been proposed to try the scheme, but
it would not work. Some of his friends
were married; others had worldly ties that
they could not break. The idea had to be
Now he had found the Truth, and at Cas-
siacuin his dream had been in a manner
realized. Why should they not continue
to live like that, he asked Alypius, at all
events until they were ready for the work to
which God had called them ? And where
FUTURE PLANS 119
should they live this life but in their own
country, which was to be the future field of
their labours ?
Alypius asked nothing better. Their friend
Evodius, like themselves a citizen of Tagaste,
who had been baptized a short time before,
was ready to join them. He held a high
position at the Court of the Emperor, but
it seemed to him a nobler thing to serve the
King of kings. So these three future bishops
of the Church in Africa made their plans
together. Monica would be the mother of
the little household, as she had been at
Cassiacum; she was ready to go wherever
A few days before they started an event
occurred which they all remembered later.
It was the feast of St. Cyprian, and Monica
had returned from Mass absorbed in God,
as she always was after Holy Communion.
Perhaps she had been thinking of her night
of anguish in the little chapel by the sea
shore at Carthage three years before, when
God had seemed deaf to her prayers, in
order that He might grant her the fulness of
her heart s desire.
120 ST. MONICA
Suddenly she turned to them with shining
Let us hasten to heaven !" she cried.
They gently questioned her as to what
she meant, but she did not seem to hear them.
My soul and my flesh have rejoiced in the
living God," she said, and they marvelled at
the heavenly beauty of her face.
It was a long journey from Milan to Ostia
on the Tiber, where they were to set sail
for Africa. They remained there for some
weeks, for the ship was not to start at once.
One evening Augustine and Monica were
sitting together at a window that overlooked
the garden and the sea. They were talking
of heaven, St. Augustine tells us, asking each
other what that eternal life of the saints
must be which eye hath not seen nor ear
heard. How small in comparison were the
things of earth, they said, even the most
beautiful of God s creations; for all these
things were less than He who made them.
As their two souls stretched out together
towards the infinite Love and Wisdom, it
seemed to them that for one moment, with
one beat of the heart, they touched It, and
THE TOY OK THAT MOMENT \v,\s LIKK A FORETASTE OF ETERNITY.
WHAT HAVE I TO LIVE FOR? 121
the joy of that moment was a foreshadowing
They sighed as it faded from them, and
they were forced to return again to the things
11 Son/ said Monica, " there is nothing in
this world now that gives me any delight.
What have I to do here any longer ? I know
not, for all I desired is granted. There was
only one thing for which I wished to live,
and that was to sec you a Christian and a
Catholic before I died. And God has given
me even more than I asked, for He has made
you one of His servants, and you now desire
no earthly happiness. What am I doing
About five days afterwards she fell ill of
a fever. They thought she was tired with
the long journey, and would soon be better;
but she grew worse, and was soon unconscious.
When she opened her eyes, Augustine and
Navigius were watching by her bed.
You will bury your mother here," she
said. Augustine could not trust himself to
speak; but Navigius, who knew how great
had been her desire to be buried at Tagaste
122 ST. MONICA
beside her husband, protested. " Oh, why
are we not at home/ he cried, " where you
would wish to be !" Monica looked at him
reproachfully. " Do you hear what he says?"
she asked Augustine. " Lay my body any
where," she said; " it does not matter. Do
not let that disturb you. This only I ask
that you remember me at God s Altar
wherever you may be."
" One is never far from God," she answered
to another person who asked her if it would
not be a sorrow to her to be buried in a land
so far from home.
It was not only her sons who grieved, but
the faithful friends who were with them, for
was she not their mother too ? Had she not
taken as much care of them as if they had
been her children ?
Augustine scarcely left her side, and she
was glad to have him with her. As she
thanked him one day for some little thing
he had done for her, his lip quivered. She
thought he was thinking of all the suffering
he had caused her, and smiled at him with
tender eyes. " You have always been a good
son to me," she said. " Never have I heard
THE DEATH OF A SAINT 123
a harsh or reproachful word from your
My life was torn in two/ says Augustine.
That life which was made up of mine and
They were all with her when she passed
peacefully away a few days later. They
choked back their tears. " It did not seem
meet/ says Augustine, " to celebrate that
death with groans and lamentations. Such
things were fit for a less blessed deathbed,
but not for hers."
Then, as they knelt gazing at the beloved
face that seemed to be smiling at some un
seen mystery, Evodius had a happy in
spiration. Taking up the Psalter, he opened
it at the uotli Psalm.
[< I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my
whole heart/ he sang softly, " in the assembly
of the just and in the congregation."
" Great are the works of the Lord," sang
the others, with trembling voices, " sought
out as they are according unto all His
pleasure." Friends and religious women who
had gathered near the house to pray entered
and joined in the chant. It was the voice
124 ST - MONICA
of rejoicing rather than the cry of grief that
followed that pure soul on its way to heaven.
Augustine alone was silent, for his heart was
We are but human, after all, and the sense
of their loss fell upon them all later. That
night Augustine lay thinking of his mother s
life and the unselfish love of which it had
been so full. " Thy handmaid, so pious
towards Thee, so careful and tender towards
us. And I let go my tears," he tells us,
" and let them flow as much as they would.
I wept for her, who for so many years had
wept for me."
They buried her, as she herself had fore
told, in Ostia, where her sacred relics were
found a thousand years later by Pope
Martin V., and carried to the Church of
St. Augustine in Rome.
The memory of the mother to whom lie
owed so much remained with Augustine until
the day of his death. He loved to speak of
her. Thirty years later, while preaching to
his people at Hippo, he said :
" The dead do not come back to us. If it
were so, how often should I see my holy
IN LIFE AND DEATH 125
mother at my side ! She followed me over
sea and land into far countries that she might
not lose me for ever. God forbid that she
should be less loving now that she is more
blessed. Ah, no ! she would come to help
and comfort me, for she loved me more than
I can tell."
The dead do not come back. But who that
has followed the career of the great bishop
and doctor of the Church can doubt that she
who prayed for him so fervently on earth
had ceased to pray for him in heaven ?
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VOLUMES NOW READY:
St. Ignatius Loyola With Introduction by Father
Sydney Smith, S.J. Third Edition
St. Golumba Apostle of Scotland. Second
St. Catherine of Siena. Second Edition
St. Monica. Second Edition
St. Hugh of Lincoln
StatttarN&carer* of tfoc jfaiib
A FEU PRESS NOTICES
" It Life of St. Columbn tells the story picturesquely and
pleasantly, and is happily illustrated." Scotsman.
"The story of St. Columba should be familiar to the young
people of Scotland . . . and this little book is welcome. "-
"These convenient biographies of the servants of God
deserve to have a large sale." -Irish Catholic.
"Though this book is meant for children, it will be read with
pleasure by their elders." British Review.
"It is indeed a marvel of cheapness and excellence, and \ve
look forward to the future volumes of the series." Secondary
"The author of the Life . . . has cleverly emphasized those
features of the great captain s career which are calculated to
excite the admiration of young and generous hearts." Month.
" The facts of the Saints lives are told with simplicity and
with admirable directness. The series is produced in an
artistic and attractive manner. Its appeal to the young ought
to be great." Catholic Herald.
Parents, teachers, and others, in search of a good book for
the children, could not do better than invest in this little work
St. Ignatius which is a marvel of cheapness. The saintly
figures of Ignatius, Francis Xavier, Francis Borgia, Laynez,
Salmeron, and others, seem to be living, moving realities as we
proceed with the story. The book seems to us an unqualified
"The Lives of St. Columba, St. Paul and St Catherine of
Siena are already announced. If in style, illustrations and
make-up they prove as attractive as the present volume, the
Standard- Bearer Series will doubtless meet with success. "-